Sun Safety & Sunscreens

Sun Safety & Sunscreens

With the dog days of summer upon us, many New Jersians will be down the shore, enjoying the beautiful beaches and boardwalks. Next to your beach tag, the most important thing to bring for that day out in the sun is sunscreen!

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is a “ non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to protecting human health and the environment.” (https://www.ewg.org/about-us) The EWG recently released their 13th annual guide to sunscreens, which can be found here: https://www.ewg.org/sunscreen/

They researched over 1300 different products with varied ingredients and have been working with the US Food and Drug Administration to “update and improve sunscreen regulations, with the EWG urging the agency to set stricter standards to better protect public health.” There is concern that some of the most common ingredients in sunscreen, including avobenzone and oxybenzone are being absorbed into skin and may be acting as endocrine (hormone) disrupters. FDA testing demonstrated that these compounds were found in urine and blood samples.

Products containing titanium dioxide and zinc oxide (think of life the lifeguard with a white cream on his nose) are considered to be safe and effective, although they may leave a slight chalky residue on your skin. Other tips for preventing sunburn:

• Cover up! Sunscreen alone is does not prevent skin cancer. Although sunshine is excellent for growing crops, it is actually a human carcinogen, especially when the skin is burned. Staying under the umbrella or wearing light clothing with SPF will help keep your skin healthy.

• High SPF (sun protection factors) do not always mean better protection. The FDA is trying to ban high SPF claims, which often make people feel safe about staying out in the sun. Try to use products with SPF’s of 50 or below.

• The sun’s burning rays are strongest between 10 am and 2 pm – be careful when outside during this time.

• Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes and eyelids from the sun.

If you and your family spend a great deal of time out in the sun, and rely on sunscreens for skin protection, then this article has a plethora of well-researched information about every aspect of these products and their use. Enjoy the shore!!